Theyyem Traditional Dance II

It is also called Theyyam or Theyyatam, Thira, Thirayatam. Attom means dance and Theyyam means God. Thus Theyyatam means the God’s dance.

The earliest historical evidences shows that the peoples resided in Malanad (North Malabar) were ancient hill tribes. Their culture and tradition have been upheld by both the tribes and the peasantry. They practiced a democracy in their organization and developed certain cultures based on particular deities and sthanas of their own.

The very attractive features of theyyatam are its colorful costumes. The make up involves very accurate face painting of different styles and body decoration. The hierarchy of Gods, Goddesses, heroes, demons, spirits and other mythical beings is personified in the plays. Although there is no fundamental difference in the costumes and make up of these theyyams, each category of theyyams varies from the other categories in accordance with the main characteristics.

Native musical instruments are used in Theyyatam festivals. The instruments are played in accordance with the steps of the dancer. Drum, Kuzhal, Perumbara, Counch, Cherututi, Utukku and Chermangalam are well known musical instruments used in Theyyatam.

The word Daivam in Malayalam language means God. The word itself has certain similarities in pronunciation and has the logic to think that the word Theyym is a corrupt form of the word Daivam.

--Rati Saxena